Offering two choices of fold and one-handed steering, the Elea is full of user-friendly features.
Looking online at Maxi-Cosi’s new buggy, the Elea, before getting it delivered for testing I wasn’t particularly inspired. It appeared to be just a fairly ordinary buggy, and also one that’s not particularly cheap. However, first impressions were not to last. From the moment the courier delivered the extremely compact box, the Maxi-Cosi Elea slowly won me over.
The Elea is a buggy where the seat really does lie flat and is therefore suitable from birth. It comes with an optional carrycot (£155), which I can’t see the point of, unless you’re going to use the carrycot as an alternative to a Moses basket, which some parents like to do.
With the use of the included Baby Nest, the Elea is extremely cosy for my 4-month-old baby Ted. The buggy seat is spacious enough (just) for my almost 3-year-old, although bigger toddlers would find it a snug ride. Despite the small-ish seat size, the buggy is fairly wide and long when open.
The Elea is travel system compatible (read the full Maxi-Cosi Elea travel system review for more) and has a reversible seat direction. It boasts two different folding mechanisms and while it’s not strictly a one-handed fold (to open, you need to push the red release button and use your foot to push on the grey pedal on the centre back axle), it’s simpler than other models I’ve tested. There’s also a very reassuring click when the Elea’s erected and locked back into place.
The Elea is available in four distinctive colours and there are no offensive ‘cutesy’ patterns, which often annoy dads – and some mums!
What we love
The Elea’s absolute best feature is the folding mechanism. It not only folds in the common downwards collapse, but also inwards so its width is greatly reduced. A major bonus to those with narrow hallways!
When folded with the seat unit still attached (Maxi-Cosi calls this the ‘daily’ fold), the Elea stands up, which is a great feature where space is an issue. Folded in this way, it’s very compact (88.5cm x 60.5cm x 52cm), however this is nothing compared to its ‘optimal’ fold footprint. The ‘optimal’ fold sees the Elea folds in the same way as before, but with the seat unit removed. As a result, it goes to a neat 84cm x 32.5cm x 15cm, providing you adjust the handle angle and remove the rear wheels. While this isn’t small enough to be taken on an aircraft as hand luggage, it would be great in the boot of a small car.
Another incredibly sensible feature is the front swivel wheel control. Many buggies feature this, but the Elea is the first one I’ve tested where the swivel lock buttons are within reach of the handlebar (located near the seat on the frame). This means no more grubbing about on the floor at the front of a buggy!
With the wheels locked, the Elea coped well with a bumpy park path, although the hard plastic wheels meant baby Ted had a harder ride than in his usual buggy with air-filled tyres. The one-handed handling claim stood up well, especially on city streets. I managed to steer the Elea with 18lb baby Ted on board, while holding a coffee and with the phone pressed to my ear. The handle is adjustable so would suit all heights.
The brakes are lovely, no nonsense and flip-flop friendly. The red foot pedal on the right puts the brake on, and the blue foot pedal on the left turns the brake off.
The shopping basket on the Elea is fairly compact, but unlike some I’ve tested, it is easy to access and doesn’t require you to move the seat or wrestling a toddler’s legs out of the way to shove the shopping in.
We love the fact that all the gear you need to get going with your newborn is included – Baby Nest, raincover, bag clips and car seat adaptors. The Baby Nest is well designed – for winter there are three layers, which can be zipped off for summer, and the head cocoon keeps your baby’s head from bouncing about too much.
What to watch out for
The hood is quite small and wouldn’t protect your baby’s eyes when the angle of the sun is low, for example, in the late afternoon in summer or in the winter generally. However, you could get around this by having your baby more upright in the buggy.
The price is fairly steep, although you do get quite a lot included in the price. Sadly, Maxi-Cosi doesn’t make a toddler buggy board, so it’s really only useful for first-time mums or those with a second baby arriving three or more years after their first.
The Baby Nest is only really useful up to 6 months – Ted is a big 4 month old (18lb), and he was fairly cramped inside. After that, you need to buy a footmuff (£50) to see you through winter.
Who is the Maxi-Cosi Elea buggy best for?
First-time parents after an urban buggy they can fold to fit small car boots and narrow hallways.
The Maxi-Cosi Elea is a compact, city-friendly, stylish buggy for first-timers from a trusted brand. It folds down really compactly, but not enough to be overhead-locker friendly, and lives up to its one-handed handling claim.